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On December 14, Ambassador Ron Kirk delivered opening remarks on the first day of the International Engagement Conference for South Sudan. The two-day conference is being held to celebrate the country’s recent independence and to initiate development and investment dialogue with the Government of South Sudan. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is hosting the conference, welcoming approximately 400 public and private sector representatives from around the world.
During his speech, Ambassador Kirk spoke about the integral role trade will play in strengthening the economy of South Sudan and the United States’ commitment to building strong U.S.-African partnerships:
“We know how important progress toward economic development is for the new government in South Sudan. And, as I believe this conference demonstrates, we share the South Sudan Government’s interest in strengthening the South Sudanese economy” said Ambassador Kirk.
Ambassador Kirk continued by explaining the steps undertaken thus far by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to work toward expanding and diversifying South Sudan’s trade with the world. In particular, USTR has begun the process of examining South Sudan’s eligibility for two major trade preference programs: the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
There are certain congressionally mandated criteria and legislative changes that must first be considered, but by initiating the examination process USTR has begun a necessary step prior to making a recommendation to President Obama on South Sudan’s eligibility. If South Sudan meets the criteria for these two programs, the South Sudanese will be able to export nearly everything they produce domestically to the United States duty-free.
Trade discussions with South Sudan are an example of USTR’s commitment to using trade for development purposes, as well as to find new trade partners and open foreign markets for American exports. These efforts serve an important role in building economic stability for our trading partners, while also playing a key part in the economic recovery at home by creating American jobs and protecting American businesses.